Friday, October 4, 2013
well, i’ve passed my first week here in the countryside of southern france, and let me tell you… it’s lovely here. i’m definitely living a charmed little life here!
let me back up a little bit, just to explain how it is that i got where i am. when i was applying for the TAPIF program, i chose “small town / rural area” as my preference, because i wanted a better shot at true immersion.. sometimes, in bigger towns and definitely in the major cities, assistants will just flock to each other and you pretty much end up speaking only english. not what i was going for this time! so, when i received my placement back in june, i found out that i’d been placed in a rural village called excideuil (ex-cee-duh-yuh, sort of). all in all, there are about 2,000 people who live here… which is only slightly larger than my high school. soooo… small town. but, even with all the reservations i had about my remote placement, i knew that it would be the absolute best thing for my french to be as immersed as possible. and i was excited about the prospect of my own beauty-and-the-beast-esque village.
in researching the town, i came across the facebook page for a café in town called ‘kitsch kafé,’ owned and operated by a lovely british ex-pat named vicki. since i was curious about the village, i looked through the photos on her page and noticed that they also rented the apartments over the café… an idea that appealed greatly to me. i reached out to vicki, just wanting to introduce myself and learn a little bit about the village. we continued our correspondence over the summer, and in late july, she told me that their studio apartment was going to be available at the end of september… exactly when i would be arriving in excideuil! too perfect. having my housing worries taken care of before i even left the states was a huge weight off of my shoulders, and made my transition into france life much easier.
so, i arrived here in excideuil on monday, september 30th. vicki even sent one of the café regulars, a philedelphia native named richard, to meet me at the bus stop and help me get my bags to the café (a whopping 200m walk down the street). when we walked in the door, vicki immediately greeted me with a smile and the bisous (the french kiss-kiss greeting) and showed me right upstairs. my apartment is TOO cute. it came totally furnished, which is an immeasurable blessing… she went above and beyond and provided bedding, towels, dishes, even hangers. pretty much everything i needed except for food. i can’t express how rare this type of accommodation is in france, and especially for the rent i’m paying, which is half of what i paid in nashville. it’s a studio, so all one room, but i have a little sleeping nook with a double bed, a decent bathroom, a kitchen with hot places and a little countertop oven, and even a couch and small tv! everything i need for a sweet life in the countryside. (pictures to come this weekend!)
i’ve spent my first few days here just settling in. i went to the supermarket down the road my first evening here and then again the next night, just to get my pantry stocked with the basics (pasta, cereal, madeleines, nutella, etc). i also stopped by the hardware store next to the market for a little plug adapter the first night, and a tv cable the next night. it’s fun to learn the little idiosyncrasies of a new place. for example, the woman at the hardware store really likes exact change… the first night, she was really short with me when i only had a 5 euro note and she had to give me change back, but the second night, i gave her exactly 3.20 for the cord, and she chatted with me about my job for about 5 minutes and wished me ‘bon courage’ as i left. i also learned that it’s way better to bring my backpack to the supermarket, instead of lugging shopping bags back home. and that’s even more true now that i have a bike!! richard, the philedelphian, is in the middle of a decade-long saga of renovation in a 15th century home just behind the café, and he had a bike up in the attic that he’s lent to me! i used the pressure washer behind the supermarket to wash it off, and it works like a charm. so, instead of walking with giant bags like i did the first night, i can now bike with my backpack to the supermarket! much easier.
i think i’ll cut myself off here and do a separate post about my school – don’t want these suckers to get too long, or even i won’t want to reread them! :) x